Joe Krown may not be a household name but he has been playing his brand of jazz, blues, and funk for over three decades, both as a sideman and as the leader of his own groups.
Raised in Long Island and educated at The University of New York, Krown honed his musical skills through years on the road and in the studio. During the 1980s, he toured as the keyboardist in a band with “Guitar Junior” Johnson, who had been a guitarist for the legendary Muddy Waters. He joined Gatemouth Brown’s backing band in 1992 as an organist and remained with him until his death in 2005.
Krown began issuing albums under his own name in 1997 and has continued to do so down to the present day. While his days as a supporting musician were spent mainly playing the blues, he has now immersed himself in the funk traditions of New Orleans.
He is now leading the Joe Krown Trio. The group was assembled in early 2007 and is a classic combo with Krown on the Hammond B-3 organ, Walter “Wolfman” Washington as the vocalist/guitarist, and Russell Batiste Jr. on drums. They make a talented threesome and mesh together well. They wrote or co-wrote 10 of the their album’s 12 tracks , which bear an improvisational feel as either the organ or guitar take off on their own with the drums and remaining instrument providing the foundation. Most of the tracks fall into the six-minute range, which give them room to create and interact.
Aptly named Triple Threat, this latest release is in some ways the type of laid-back funk you can only find and hear in any number of smokey New Orleans clubs. While there are only three instruments involved, they are still able to create some textures and depth to their sound. There are a few ballads but most of the tracks are uptempo and danceable.
“Only You” is the first track and sets the tone for what will follow. There is a Booker T. and The MG’s vibe, a smooth vocal by Washington and some tasty guitar runs floating over the organ lines. “Down By The River” is an instrumental that features some fine interplay between Krown’s organ work and Baptiste’s drumming. “Spirit Of The Wolf” is a rousing and melodic track that makes you want to get up and dance along.
Two cover songs fit in well. “Last Two Dollars” is an old Johnny Taylor tune. The vocal here is similar to the original version but the organ adds some pep to the tune. The album’s most fascinating track is the Ed Townsend classic from 1958, “For Your Love.” They slowed the song way down (and I mean way down) and then added a subtle but soulful vocal.
Triple Threat is a nice dose of New Orleans funk courtesy of the Joe Krown Trio. So sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and groove the night away.